What is an architectural rendering and how do you create one?

What is an architectural rendering and how do you create one?

March 25, 2024
Yannic Schwarz

Demystifying Architectural Rendering: A Comprehensive Guide

Key Takeaways

  1. Understanding Rendering in Architecture: Rendering involves generating visual representations of architectural designs using computer software, aiding in decision-making and communication.
  1. Steps of Architectural Rendering: The process includes preparing 3D CAD models, texturing surfaces, adding context and lighting, and stylizing the final rendering.
  2. Challenges in Traditional Rendering: Manual adjustments and complex software interfaces hinder workflow efficiency and productivity.
  1. Innovative Solutions in Real-Time Rendering: Real-time rendering solutions like Enscape3D and Twinmotion revolutionize the visualization process, allowing dynamic adjustments and instant feedback.
  1. AI Rendering Solutions: Despite advancements, AI rendering solutions face challenges such as inaccuracy and inconsistency, requiring integration of 3D metadata for improved results.

For a comprehensive overview about rendering software in general and to uncover the most often used tools, we recommend reading this article.

Definition of Architectural Rendering

Rendering in architecture refers to the process of generating visual representations of architectural designs using computer software. These renderings provide clients, stakeholders, and designers with realistic depictions of proposed projects, aiding in decision-making and communication throughout the design process.

Understanding Rendering in Architecture

Architectural rendering serves as a cornerstone in the visualization of architectural designs, offering a glimpse into the future built environment. However, the process of creating these visualizations is often intricate and time-consuming. In this blog post, we'll delve into what rendering entails, the steps involved in creating architectural renderings, and explore innovative solutions that streamline the process.

The steps of architectural Rendering

Creating a compelling architectural rendering involves several key steps, each essential for achieving realistic and visually appealing results:

  1. Preparation of 3D CAD Model: The rendering process begins with the preparation of a 3D Computer-Aided Design (CAD) model of the architectural design. Architects meticulously fine-tune the model, removing unnecessary details and adding missing  components to ensure accuracy in the final rendering.
  1. Texturing and Materialization: Once the 3D model is refined, architects proceed to texture and materialize the surfaces. This involves selecting materials from a library and fine-tuning textures to achieve the desired aesthetics.
  1. Adding Context and Environment: To enhance realism of the rendering, architects incorporate context and environmental elements into the scene. This may include manually placing trees, cars, and other objects to create a lifelike setting.

  2. Atmosphere and Lighting Setup: Creating the desired atmosphere is crucial for conveying the intended emotion of the space. Architects manually adjust lighting indicators, such as intensity and color, to achieve the desired ambiance in the rendering.

  3. 5. Stylization and Post-Processing: Finally, architects may choose to stylize the rendering to match the project's aesthetic vision. This can be done within the rendering software or through post-processing techniques in software like Photoshop.

Challenges in Traditional Rendering

The traditional rendering process is quite complex, including the labor-intensive nature of manual adjustments and the complexity of rendering software interfaces. Architects often spend countless hours navigating complex software functionalities, hindering workflow efficiency and productivity.

If you want to read more about the current state of AI rendering, we recommend you to read this article.

Innovative Solutions in Real-Time Rendering

Fortunately, advancements in technology have led to the emergence of real-time rendering solutions that revolutionize the architectural visualization process. These solutions offer architects the ability to make dynamic adjustments to their 3D scenes and visualize changes instantly. Some notable real-time rendering software solutions include:

  1. Enscape3D: Enscape3D provides architects with real-time rendering capabilities directly within popular design software such as Revit and SketchUp. Its intuitive interface and seamless integration make it a preferred choice among architects.
  1. Twinmotion: Twinmotion offers fast and easy-to-use real-time rendering tools, allowing architects to visualize designs in real time and create immersive experiences for clients.
  1. D5 Render: D5 Render boasts a user-friendly interface and powerful rendering capabilities, enabling architects to create stunning visualizations with ease.
  1. Lumion: Lumion simplifies the rendering process with its intuitive interface and vast library of assets. Architects can quickly create lifelike renderings and animations to showcase their designs effectively.
  1. Unreal Engine: Unreal Engine, known for its gaming capabilities, also serves as a powerful real-time rendering tool for architectural visualization. Its advanced features and flexibility make it a popular choice among architectural professionals.
  1. Vray: Vray is a widely used rendering engine known for its photorealistic rendering capabilities and integration with popular design software.
  1. Blender: Blender, an open-source software, offers robust rendering capabilities and a vibrant community of users and developers.

Can AI help to make renderings easier?

With the release of the first functional generative networks such as Midjourney or Stable Diffusion hopes are high that rendering becomes easier. Many new startups such as VISOID,, ArkoAI,, Veras or RenderGPT already try to make the architectural rendering process much easier. 

By uploading a 2D file such as a sketch or screenshot from a 3D CAD plan these solutions generate renderings based on the combination of input data and prompts. However, so far these solutions face a variety of issues that hinder market adoption. 

  1. Inaccuracy of output: As only 2D input is given, the generative networks do not have sufficient information about how to create a specific rendering for architectural purposes. Often, materials are changed, the geometry gets distorted, and important details disappear. 
  1. Materials are not editable: As only 2D input is allowed, the architect is not able to make any changes to the plan within the visualization software. This means that all changes must be implemented in the design software which is tedious as creating renderings is a process that often involves continuous adjustments and fine-tuning. 
  1. Inconsistent render outputs: Another issue is that the rendering output across different perspectives (or planning stages) will not be the same. Prompting “sunshine in the afternoon” will always lead to different outcomes. In architecture however, consistency is key to customer satisfaction.

To create more accurate and consistent output that gives sufficient room for adjustments, AI rendering solutions need to integrate 3D metadata that controls the generative networks’ output. Upcoming AI architecture visualization software such as Pelicad aims to provide this speed of AI with the accuracy of real-time rendering solutions. In this blog entry, you can read more about how Pelicad's journey started from Augmented Reality to AI visuals for real estate.


In conclusion, architectural rendering serves as a vital tool in the design process, offering stakeholders a realistic glimpse into proposed projects. While traditional rendering methods are labor-intensive and time-consuming, innovative real-time rendering solutions have revolutionized the industry, allowing architects to visualize designs dynamically and make instant adjustments. However, challenges persist in AI rendering solutions, which face issues of accuracy and consistency. Moving forward, integrating 3D metadata into AI rendering solutions holds promise for overcoming these challenges and achieving more accurate and efficient results. As technology continues to evolve, architectural rendering will undoubtedly remain at the forefront of visualizing the future built environment.